Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 11, 2017

Contact Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351,

Senate Considers Nomination of Climate-denying ExxonMobil CEO for Secretary of State

WASHINGTON— The Senate Foreign Relations Committee today began the nomination hearing on President-elect Trump's selection of former ExxonMobil chief executive officer Rex Tillerson for U.S. secretary of state. As the country's leading foreign diplomat, the secretary of state implements the president's foreign policy, and negotiates treaties and other executive agreements. The incoming secretary of state will decide the fate of several high-profile Obama administration environmental decisions, including the rejection of the Keystone XL dirty tar sands pipeline and the adoption of the Paris climate agreement.

“Putting Rex Tillerson in charge of climate policy is like asking Bernie Madoff to handle your life savings,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Tillerson's denial of climate change and his horrible record on human rights around the world indicate that he is precisely the wrong person to lead the United States' foreign diplomacy.”

Numerous recent reports have revealed that for roughly 50 years, ExxonMobil knew about and covered up the link between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change.  In addition, while the company's ex-CEO takes the stand in front of Congress, ExxonMobil is preparing to appear before a jury in Washington, D.C. federal court to answer allegations that private military forces under its employ in Indonesia committed murder, kidnapping, other horrific human rights and environmental violations. This lawsuit is consistent with other revelations during Tillerson's long tenure at ExxonMobil, including his questionable relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin and the company's decision to do business in Syria and Iran at times when the U.S. government explicitly sought the opposite. 

“Trump's decision to nominate Tillerson is yet another painfully clear signal that he's placing the profits of the wealthy ahead of the interests of the American people and has essentially declared war on our planet's air, land, waters and wildlife,” said Suckling. 

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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